The Vancouver Canucks made a splash in the off-season, signing and acquiring a number of high-profile names to their roster. Through the first month and a half of the season, most of them have lived up, or exceeded the hype. Let’s take a look at how each one has performed individually thus far.
Undoubtedly the most disappointing of the acquisitions, Sam Gagner is off to a slow start offensively. With just two goals and five points in 17 games (a 24-point pace), Gagner has scarcely looked a major threat to score. While he certainly hasn’t been a liability, and it’s fair to say he hasn’t been utilized to his full potential, he also hasn’t looked particularly dangerous. Brought in to spark the power play, Gagner has not delivered in that regard. Part of his failures thus far can be pinned on the coaching staff, but overall, it’s hard to say the former 6th overall pick has been anything better than average.
Brought in as little more than a depth reclamation project, Alex Burmistrov has performed solidly in that role. With a respectable five points in 15 contests, Burmistrov has provided decent secondary scoring, while playing responsible defensive hockey. Of course, he hasn’t played a flashy or spectacular style, but that’s not what was expected upon his arrival. Relative to expectations, Burmistrov has been a solid addition to the Canucks’ bottom-six.
The signing of Thomas Vanek was criticized widely. Many claimed it to be unnecessary, and referenced his late-season performance with the Florida Panthers (two goals, ten points in 20 games) as a reason to avoid the 33-year-old. However, it is safe to say that he performed rather well thus far. He has five goals (and nine points) in 17 games, with the former total tied for third on the team. On a team lacking in goal scoring, Vanek has provided just that, despite not always playing the noticeable brand. While the merits of the addition can still be debated, it’s hard to be disappointed in what he’s brought to the table so far.
Michael Del Zotto
The Canucks sorely lacked puck movers last season, and brought in Michael Del Zotto through free agency to help in that department. While he has performed well in that regard, his true value has come in his reliability. Due to injuries to key defenders (Alex Edler, Troy Stecher), Del Zotto has been forced to average a career-high 24:05 per night, and hasn’t looked out of place in doing so. He is providing great value at $3 million per season, and has also made contributions on the scoreboard with seven points in 17 games. The Del Zotto signing could have been a mess, and there have been flashes of scattered defensive play, but overall, he has certainly proved himself as a valuable commodity.
The Canucks acquired Derrick Pouliot just prior to the season’s start, and thus far, he has looked to have been well worth Andrey Pedan and a fourth round pick. He has played a strong transition game, and played respectably on the power play point. His underlying numbers are strong, and he rarely makes gaudy defensive miscues. He shows potential for further growth, and even in the moment, looks more than capable of sustained NHL duty.
While having only played four games, Anders Nilsson has looked incredible in doing so. He has put up two shutouts, a save percentage .943, and a goals against average of 1.89. Playing a low-event style of game, Nilsson looks stable and confident in net, and has, along with Jacob Markstrom, provided the Canucks with effective netminding. After an off-season of questions surrounding the crease, Nilsson has looked outstanding in answering each one.